Maybe it's the pandemic that forced our hands, but competence is cool. Not too long ago, a collective frustration with all the rigors of adulting seemed mildly charming. Now, mastery of a skill set is the new "I can't even." And cooking is the new takeout.
There are few better exemplars of culinary capability than Joshua Weissman. On his wildly popular YouTube channel (closing in on five million subscribers) the 25 year-old chef demystifies the kitchen, creating clever home versions of fast food favorites, "but cheaper" interpretations of classics like sushi rolls and gourmet burgers, and ambitious from scratch projects like croissants. His persona is curious, reassuring and a little firm — the encouraging teacher who instills confidence by telling you that yes, you can do this.
His debut, "An Unapologetic Cookbook," offers a similar attitude. "If you want a specific outcome, whatever it is," Weissman observed during a recent phone call, "it could be something in your professional life, it could be if you're playing a video game, it's going to require some level of effort. Now, does good food require effort? Yes. Does it have to require lots of time? Not always. But I just want people to look at the fact that if something takes time, that's perfectly okay."
Beginning with "cooking foundation" recipes for things like breads, cheeses and stocks, Weissman's book then moves the reader on to both simple and more elaborate applications for those building blocks. After all, if you learn how to make bread, imagine what a game changer it'll be for your grilled cheese sandwiches. Or cinnamon toast. Or French toast. There are recipes for all of them in "Unapologetic."
I love French toast because it is objectively sensational, and also because it's fast and idiot-proof. Do pancakes intimidate you? French toast is your best friend. And if you've ever made it, you already know — the industrial brunch complex propaganda that it's some expensive, weekend only thing is a giant lie. You can, of course, rise to Weissman's challenges and make your own bread and your own butter — and feel pretty great about your achievement. Or you can simply, as he also suggests, use the store bought versions of your ingredients and still wind up pretty damn satisfied. Here, I've reverse engineered his recipe a little to adapt to his cinnamon toast, a delicacy he correctly describes as a "perfect food." The result is rich, eggy, incredibly nostalgic — and far too good to wait for Sunday to enjoy.
Recipe: Cinnamon toast French toast
Inspired by Joshua Weissman's "An Unapologetic Cookbook"
- 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 cup of half and half (or 1/2 cup of heavy cream and 1/2 cup of whole milk)
- 4 slices of your favorite bread, preferably that you've thickly cut yourself (I used challah here — little on the stale side is ideal.)
- Softened butter for the pan and more for topping
- In a small bowl, combine your cinnamon and sugar.
- In a medium bowl or pie dish, whisk together eggs, yolk and salt until combined.
- Add your half and half and whisk again.
- Heat a heavy skillet over medium flame, and melt your butter.
- Add two slices of bread to your egg and milk mixture, letting them get thoroughly soaked.
- With a slotted spatula, add the bread to your pan and cook for 2 - 4 minutes, until browned and set. Flip and cook another 2 minutes or so.
- Remove your first two slices of bread from the pan and plate them, and then repeat the process with your next two slices.
- When all your French toast is done, top each slice with a pat of butter and spread to all four corners. Sprinkle liberally with cinnamon sugar. Top with whipped cream, if you're feeling it.
More Quick & Dirty:
- This riff on a classic Southern pie is comfort in a bite — and the leftovers taste great for breakfast
- French-inspired lentils are the easiest cure for your winter blues — and they're impossible to mess up
- The viral feta pasta dish everyone's raving about is even better without pasta
- A chocolate sandwich tastes exactly as comforting as it sounds — and it's sublime
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